Millennials Spend More on Coffee Than on Retirement Savings - and Now They Can Get Their Caffeine Boost in a Chewable Cube

Drip, latte, cappuccino, frappuccino, macchiato, mocha, americano. Simple words to some, music to the ears of most. Coffee is the liquid lifeblood of America and much of the world. No doubt one of the most socially acceptable drugs around, coffee has become an almost indispensable part of everyday life. And that’s not hyperbole: A recent survey sponsored by the investing app Acorns found that on average almost half of adult Americans under 35 spend more money on their morning brew than on savings for retirement.


This statistic, calculated by the online analytics company SurveyMonkey, took into account the spending habits of 1,900 millennials. In an interview with food website Munchies, Acorns further broke down its findings. “A staggering 44 percent of female millennials aged 18-35 spent more on their morning fix than they did putting money aside this year,” Acorns told the site, adding that with men included, this figure averaged out at 41 percent.

It’s important to remember that these findings come courtesy of a business aimed at encouraging people to invest their money. But that doesn’t make the reality the survey reflects any less true. So what gives?

Basically, people are just paying more for their morning cups of joe. A 2014 Time article outlined seven reasons why this was the case. It primarily comes down to the fact that younger Americans are drinking more and paying more for their coffee. A PayPal poll cited in the article showed that “18% of people age 18 to 34 were willing to pay more than $3 per cup, compared with just 8% of those age 50 to 64.”

Carlos Mera Arzeno, a London-based commodities analyst, explained why in an interview with the Washington Post. “Coffee demand is robust and growing at about 1.5 percent per annum,” he said, citing the expansion of “coffee culture” as one trend. “The other trend,” he continued, “is the urbanization processes in emerging countries. Many people migrate from the countryside to the cities, say in countries like China, try coffee for the first time and start consuming it.”

In that same article a Bloomberg report related this trend to American millennials. Those born after 1995 now tend to begin drinking coffee at around 14.7 years of age, which comes in at around three years younger than older generations born “closer to 1982.”

While the findings reveal this growing habit among young Americans, the reasons behind the behavior are less certain. Gabrielle Bosche, a consultant specializing in marketing to millennials, offered her take to the Washington Post. "Soda is unhealthy, and coffee offers the same jolt without the socially unacceptable soda addiction,” she said. “Coffee has everything millennials love: status, experience, and personalization."

There is of course a more glaring explanation: coffee dependency.

“Coffee dependence is not the desire to have coffee, but rather a series of underlying symptoms,” explained Karen Juarez, a University of Illinois student, in an article about her own struggles with coffee addiction. Said Juarez, dependency comes down to a “physical need for caffeine’s presence within the body.”

The fact that increased consumption relates to dependency makes sense. For those in denial about their dependence, try going a few days without your morning cup. And while you’re at it, look out for some of these signature caffeine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Headaches that “usually start behind the eyes and then move up the front of the head.”
  • Lethargy, struggling to keep your eyes open.
  • Irritability: You are not a fully functioning human until you’ve had your first cup.
  • Constipation: Caffeine is known to stimulate the bowel, so if being regular includes drinking coffee, chances are you’ll soon notice the difference.
  • Depression can stem from many sources, one being this form of withdrawal.
  • An inability to concentrate.
  • Anxiety, and in extreme cases actual panic attacks, are telltale warnings that you have an unhealthy dependence.
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities: “Since caffeine also stimulates the heart muscle, some people experience changes in their heart rhythm during withdrawal. Both low blood pressure and even palpitations have been reported.”

Juarez wrote that overcoming her dependence was “terrible, frustrating and caffeine-less.” Once she managed to detox her body, she wrote, the challenge became one of “finding a balance between drinking and abstaining from coffee.” Easier said than done, right?

Depending on coffee for your caffeine intake is evidently a costly and often unhealthy exercise. It doesn’t have to be that way. FoodBeast.com recently listed “8 weird ways to get your caffeine buzz.” Ranging from beef jerky to gum, there are many ways to supplement your craving for caffeine without having to turn to coffee.

Another interesting innovation worth a try is the Indiegogo success story Go Cubes. These “gummy coffee bites” made from cold brew coffee are the creation of Nootrobox, a Silicon Valley startup. Each cube, which come in packs of four, contains the caffeine equivalent of half a cup of coffee, along with a dose of B complex that helps to accelerate metabolisms and L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea. The result is a snack that offers a caffeine fix without the jittery side-effects of your regular joe. Go Cubes are currently available on the Nootrobox website, as well as Amazon. In the near future, these caffeine gummies will also be in stock at 7-Eleven stores throughout California.

For better or worse, caffeine is essential to most functioning human lives. The good news is you can still get that fix without burdening your health or your wallet. If you can bring your coffee intake down today, chances are you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

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